50 HPM 0816

HPM-08-AUG-2016

50 SUSTA I N A B I L I T Y & WAT E R S AV I N G Solving water issues, one drop at a time David Spragg, of Xylem Water Solutions, explores the topic of water conservation, why it should matter to us all and what we can all do to make a difference As an island surrounded by water and with flooding as a constant threat, availability of water here in the UK may not cross many peoples’ minds. Water is a precious resource, but the average UK citizen uses an estimated 150 litres of water per day – 50 litres more every day across water conscious Europe. When you also consider ‘embedded water’ in the food we consume, as well as the water used in the production of most products, the figure is considerably higher. It’s a dilemma and both the plumbing industry and manufacturers have a hard task ahead to help mitigate some of this wastage through education and more efficient product solutions. Technology has advanced and manufacturers are pushing boundaries in terms of technological developments to help the situation. According to Waterwise, the traditional style flush systems on our toilets use a massive 13 litres per flush, compared to the more modern solutions which use between four and six litres. Advances in technology have helped consumers become more efficient, without even thinking about it. Temperature fluctuations are also impacting on our demand for water around the world. As temperatures rise, we each turn to the tap to help cool us down, but the heat of course also means water evaporates much faster. You could argue that rainfall will return this water back to the ground, but here in lies another problem – we can’t make it rain just over our lakes and rivers, water also falls on our growing urban landscapes and continues to build on surface water levels, leading to flooding. Water conservation The theme of water conservation actually marries well into the broader efficiency debate. UK government has mandated a series of pieces of legislation to increase accountability around efficiency. Bearing in mind that water use, and in particular hot water use has a significant carbon cost, housebuilders and those working in the built environment must have a clear understanding of the demands placed upon them, in terms of legislation, but we also each have a moral responsibility to help make efficiency happen. Technology needn’t be complex and once in place in a home, we are part of the way there in terms of reducing carbon cost, as the technology is built with efficiency in mind. The boiler is the perfect example as advancements have been extensive. The move to condensing boilers revolutionised the market, then came the development of stainless steel and aluminium heat exchangers which enabled greater thermal efficiencies. One of the greatest efficiencies in terms of energy in recently has been modulation shifting thermal efficiencies to the 98% mark. Another element of the boiler system that has generated savings is the circulator pump. Upgrading a hot water circulator pump to a high efficiency model can save consumers 80% of electricity when compared to the consumption of a 60 W standard pump. In large domestic dwellings, and the vast majority of multi-storey housing accommodation, a water booster set is required to ensure that the water is pressurised sufficiently to reach all distribution points. The issue with this, is that traditional booster sets work at a fixed speed meaning the level of energy consumed remains the same, even when demand for water is low. By changing a conventional fixed speed unit into a variable speed booster set, it is possible to deliver a reduction of up to 50% on energy consumption in an instant. In terms of water conservation, it also means an end to homeowners running a tap for until the hot water comes through. The pump will also meet demand at a constant pressure, regardless of other sanitary fittings being used in the household. Many ‘plug-and-play’ variable speed drives are universally compatible and can be retrofitted to any existing booster set. Fitting modern variable speed drives is easy and once complete the system will communicate electronically to ensure the system ramps up and down depending on customer demand. Simple adjustments Through some simple adjustments to a central heating system and through greater awareness in the market place, it is possible to improve energy efficiencies and reduce water consumption in our homes. We aren’t going to solve global water problems by this alone, but every action counts and is a step in the right direction. 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HPM-08-AUG-2016
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